Key Points about Vomiting

  • Vomiting is forceful expulsion of the stomach’s contents, which can be incidental and harmless, or can be a symptom of several underlying conditions.
  • Common causes of vomiting include stomach infections, motion sickness, pregnancy, certain medications, and gastrointestinal disorders.
  • For most cases of vomiting, you can treat symptoms at home.
  • If you experience persistent vomiting, see your doctor to determine the underlying cause.
Common related conditions
Bloody Stool Constipation Diarrhea Celiac Disease Heartburn Irritable Bowel Syndrome Lactose Intolerance Nausea Prediabetes

Overview

Vomiting is forceful expulsion of the stomach’s contents. Vomiting is a symptom of several underlying conditions. To treat vomiting, your doctor will need to identify the cause of the vomiting and treat this underlying condition.

Vomiting causes

The most common causes of vomiting include:

  • Stomach infections
  • Motion sickness
  • Pregnancy
  • Medications
  • GI disorders

Vomiting risk factors

Certain conditions put you at an increased risk of vomiting, such as:

  • Pregnancy
  • Stomach bugs
  • GI disorders
  • Cancer

Vomiting symptoms

Vomiting is forceful expulsion of the stomach’s contents, or attempted vomiting (dry heaving) when nothing comes up. Additional symptoms that may accompany vomiting include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Feeling lightheaded

Vomiting diagnosis

Vomiting is a symptom of an underlying condition. To diagnose that condition, your doctor will evaluate all your symptoms together, in addition to the vomiting.

Vomiting treatment

Vomiting can often be treated at home. Home treatment options for vomiting include:

  • Eating smaller, more frequent meals
  • Drinking water or clear fluids, in small sips
  • Resting
  • Avoiding solid food
  • Avoiding medications that can upset the stomach, such as corticosteroids or anti-inflammatory medications

If your vomiting persists after self-treatment, your doctor may prescribe medications to control nausea and vomiting, such as:

  • Phenergan
  • Benadryl
  • Tigan
  • Zofran

Your doctor will also treat any underlying condition that is responsible for the vomiting.

When to seek care

Adults should call doctor if:

  • Home treatment is not effective
  • You are dehydrated
  • You experienced a head injury before vomiting
  • Your vomiting lasts for longer than one day

For infants or children under six, see a doctor if the child:

  • Is vomiting for more than a few hours
  • Also has diarrhea
  • Is dehydrated
  • Has a fever
  • Has not urinated for 4-6 hours

For children over the age of six, see a doctor if the child:

  • Is vomiting for a full day
  • Has diarrhea combined with vomiting for more than 24 hours?
  • Has any signs of dehydration?
  • Has a fever over 101 degrees
  • Has not urinated for six hours.

Seek immediate medical attention if vomiting is accompanied by:

  • Blood in the vomit that appears bright red or like "coffee grounds"
  • A severe headache or stiff neck
  • Lethargy, confusion, or decreased alertness
  • Intense abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid breathing or pulse

Next Steps

Your doctor may prescribe medications to vomiting in addition to treating any underlying condition.